Netanyahu Dissolves Israel’s War Cabinet | Crooked Media
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June 17, 2024
What A Day
Netanyahu Dissolves Israel’s War Cabinet

In This Episode

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday dissolved his war cabinet that’s overseen the country’s fighting in Gaza. The move was expected, but it came after two centrist members of the cabinet resigned in frustration over Netanyahu’s handling of the war. Meanwhile, representatives from dozens of nations left a weekend conference in Switzerland aimed at ending the war in Ukraine with little to show for it. Ben Rhodes, former U.S. deputy national security advisor and co-host of ‘Pod Save The World,’ talks about what these developments mean for both wars.
  • And in headlines: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy called for tobacco-like warning labels on social media platforms, President Biden is expected to issue an executive order expanding protections for undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens, and Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order pardoning more than 175,000 low-level marijuana convictions.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, June 18th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Andersen and this is What a Day, the show where we’re telling all of the Republicans who cyberbullied Chuck Schumer’s innocent grilling pic on Sunday to calm down. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Schumer posted a picture of himself grilling at his daughter’s house on Father’s Day, and the MAGA heads set their keyboards on fire, criticizing his grilling skills. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He was so embarrassed he deleted it. I don’t know why y’all mad if you not eating what’s on his grill? [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, the U.S. Surgeon General calls for cigarette style warning labels on social media platforms, warning of the possible impact on children’s mental health. Plus, McDonald’s is reportedly getting rid of its AI drive thru program. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first developments related to the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his six member war cabinet. This came just days after one of his main rivals, and former general, Benny Gantz, resigned from the emergency government that formed at the start of the war. Gantz had threatened to quit the government if Netanyahu did not develop a post war plan for Gaza by June 8th. Netanyahu still hasn’t shared a plan. And as the war rages on in the South, in recent weeks conflict along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has also intensified with the militant group Hezbollah. As we’ve covered on the show. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. So there’s a lot going on. What about Ukraine and Russia? What’s happening there? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, well, the war is no closer to ending than when it started. There was a two day conference in Switzerland this past weekend that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called, quote, “the first steps toward peace.” Nearly 80 of the almost 100 governments represented at the conference signed a joint communique that the territorial integrity of Ukraine should be the basis for any peace deal. Which is the exact opposite of what Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered in a recent proposal. Russia, by the way, was not invited to participate in the conference, and some leaders cited Russia’s absence as why they did not sign, because they felt both sides presence was essential to create a plan to move forward. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, so what was the larger point of the conference? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the point was to really show that Ukraine is not alone. It’s Ukraine’s way of pulling countries together to support their peace plan and a way of saying to Russia that they’ve got a lot of nations backing them up. Now, it didn’t really produce any tangible outcomes that would lead to a quicker resolution of the war. But the hope is that this will set the foundation for future talks. So like you mentioned, obviously there’s a lot to dig into here. So I called up friend of the pod and former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to break it all down for us. And he said that the dissolution of the Israeli War Cabinet was very much anticipated. 


Ben Rhodes: Frankly, he dissolved it because people were leaving it in pretty significant numbers. But essentially what people should know is when Netanyahu put together a coalition to govern, he was highly dependent on really far right parties, extremists, some people who have been literally convicted of crimes. This is the most far right government in history. And after October 7th, Netanyahu believed, rightly, that he could strengthen his political position if he reached out to people who were not in his governing coalition and brought them in in key positions in this kind of small war cabinet. So he brought in some centrist politicians who are kind of retired generals, people with a lot more military experience than Netanyahu. So that might convey gravitas to the Israeli people. And essentially trying to hold this government together as long as he could. Now, the differences have been building for months, mainly around the fact that Benny Gantz, who was the first and most prominent person to leave the war cabinet, you know, pointed out repeatedly that Netanyahu had no plan for how to end this war or for what the future of Gaza is. And literally all he was asking for was, was a plan. And so now you essentially have people who are not part of the governing coalition. So this doesn’t collapse the government in Israel, but it does kind of unravel this war cabinet. Netanyahu decided rather than bring in some other people, including these far right people, into the war cabinet. I’ll just go back to the pre October 7th status quo, which is me in this far right coalition. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So what does that mean for the future of the war in Gaza, the future of politics in Israel? Like, does this give Netanyahu even more control of, you know, the strategy he was already kind of waging? 


Ben Rhodes: These people left, people like Benny Gantz, the War Cabinet, in part because they thought Netanyahu was too beholden to these far right ministers, and in particular, his far right national security minister and finance minister. The irony of them leaving, though, is that now Netanyahu is kind of wholly dependent on those people. And frankly, those are the people that are going to be in the room with him. It sets up essentially a dynamic where either, Netanyahu stays in power for the foreseeable future with this kind of far right government, or whether or not something can collapse this government and kind of compel an election, and I think that’s what the people who resigned from the War Cabinet want to do is hasten an election in Israel. And I think Netanyahu, you know, candidly sees the war as a way of staying in power. The sooner there’s an election, they’ll likely lose that election. And so as long as he’s presenting himself as a kind of wartime leader of necessity, it kind of perpetuates his hold on the prime ministership. But frankly, I think the status quo has been alarming enough in Gaza, and I think we’re going to see more of the same in that regard. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. And in addition to what’s going on in Gaza in recent weeks, there’s been an escalation in cross-border fire between Israel and the Iranian backed militant group Hezbollah from Lebanon. We know that the U.S. sent an envoy to Israel on Monday to try to de-escalate tensions in that conflict. Can you tell us more about what’s happening there?


Ben Rhodes: The Hezbollah, people should know, is a much, much, much more powerful military force than Hamas. I mean, they’ve got tens of thousands of advanced rockets. They control kind of parts of Lebanon and its government. And so the US, from the beginning of this, has tried to keep this from being a full war between Israel and Hezbollah inside of Lebanon. Now, the challenge has been that, you know, there hasn’t been a full blown escalation, but Israel has been taking shots at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, and Lebanon has been responding with rocket fire into northern Israel. Inside of Lebanon, that’s been enough to cause casualties. Inside of Israel, that’s been enough to displace tens of thousands of people over the course of the last eight months. So basically, the populations along the border with Lebanon have had to kind of move as displaced people inside of Israel. And that’s created a lot of political pressure on the Israeli government. To me, it’s a sign, though, that as long as the underlying source of tension in this whole region, the war in Gaza continues, you’re going to see this risk of escalation in Lebanon and other places. And frankly, the surest way to get to some kind of de-escalation and calm in the region is through a cease fire in Gaza. 


Tre’vell Anderson: How likely is it right now that we will still see a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas? 


Ben Rhodes: It doesn’t feel that likely to me. Um. The US has been making a lot of noise for the last two or three weeks about the cease fire proposal, and yet there continue to be these core gaps. Mainly Hamas wants a cease fire to definitively end the war, and Israel doesn’t want to agree to that and says they won’t agree to that. Well, that’s a pretty big gap, you know, and the US has been trying to fill it by saying, well, let’s have a short term ceasefire where there’s at least an exchange of prisoners and release of hostages. But the problem is Hamas is saying, well, we’re not going agree to that unless we know the war is going to end. And so I hope that they can still pull a rabbit out of a hat here. But the reality is that Hamas and the Israeli government seem to be getting almost further apart on some of these things. And I think one of the things people have to recognize is there’s a world in which there’s just not a ceasefire and in which this conflict grinds on, and it may not look at the same intensity as it tragically has the last few months. That’s what the Biden administration has been trying to avoid. But that’s the current trajectory we’re on. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, let’s pivot to the war in Ukraine and some updates there. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has put forward a proposal for a cease fire. Talk to us a bit about what’s in that plan and whether or not you see that framework being, you know, a viable path to negotiations. 


Ben Rhodes: It was useful to kind of see where the starting point of negotiation would be. Now, on the Russian side, Putin has essentially claimed for annexation, several pieces of Ukraine. These are basically the pieces they occupy, Crimea, but also pretty big chunks of eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine. And Russia has actually formally, in its own view, annexed these territories. The Ukrainian side, you know, their proposals are Russia, get out of here, essentially, and restore all of our sovereignty and pay us reparations for what you’ve done. So clearly those are politically irreconcilable. I do think if this gets to an actual negotiation, though, the Ukrainians are not going to achieve the negotiated return of all their territory, and the Russians are not going to achieve the international recognition of annexation of all this land, but it’s going to be in the space in between. And then the question is, over time, if there really is an international negotiation around these things, how do you begin to try to narrow those gaps? Otherwise you kind of are looking at both sides just in an open ended way, trying to achieve their objectives militarily and frankly, on either side. That doesn’t seem likely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. And then at last week’s G7 summit, the U.S. and other major global economies agreed to loan Ukraine $50 billion for weapons and rebuilding infrastructure. I wonder what does this decision to lend this money to Ukraine, say, about the state of the war right now?


Ben Rhodes: It is being taken from some of the hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian revenues and oil revenues that were frozen in Western sanctions at the beginning of the war. And I think what the objective is, is, look, the Russians have been trying to send a message that time is on our side. We’re the bigger country. We can churn out weapons. We can, frankly, conscript people and send them and throw them at the front line. And because we’re several times bigger than Ukraine. We’ll just grind you out and wait you out and essentially make this impossible for you to continue. So one of the things that I think Ukrainian supporters are trying to do is signal no, no, Ukraine has a long term significant lifeline in terms of economic assistance, humanitarian assistance as well as military assistance. And I think this kind of scale of a package is meant to send that message, hey, the Ukrainians are gonna have resources for a while here. Now the wild card of course is if Trump gets elected and pulls the plug on that on at least a piece of that support from the US. And so I think another thing the G7 is trying to do at a time of a lot of international anxiety about that prospect of a Trump election for Ukraine. They’re trying to signal, no, like we’ve got resources set aside. This is a commitment not just to the US. It’s the G7. It’s all these other countries too. And that’s part of what’s going on here, even though nobody kind of wants to say it out loud. 


Tre’vell Anderson: That was my conversation with Ben Rhodes, former deputy national Security Advisor. You can hear more of Ben on episodes of Pod Save the World wherever you get your podcasts. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment, but if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break]




Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is calling for tobacco like warning labels on social media platforms, citing the mental health risk he says they pose to young people. In a New York Times op ed on Monday, Murthy called the mental health crisis among young people an emergency, and he expanded on his op ed on NBC’s Today. 


[clip of Vivek Murthy] We have allowed these platforms to exist, to evolve, to proliferate, to really occupy so much space in our children’s lives. And our kids themselves are telling us about the mental health impact. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Experts have debated for years how social media use affects young people’s mental health. But Murthy cited a study showing that kids who spend more than three hours a day on social media are at double the risk for depression and anxiety. He also acknowledged that warning labels alone would not solve the issue. Whether or not we will see the Surgeon General’s warning in the future will require an act of Congress. 


Tre’vell Anderson: President Biden is set to unveil a new executive order today to protect undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens from deportation. The legislation allows the spouses to apply for a quote, “parole in place” program that allows them to stay in the U.S. if they’ve lived here for at least ten years. The program also grants eligible spouses work permits. The policy is expected to impact 490,000 spouses of U.S. citizens. This is Biden’s second immigration executive order this month. The other order limits how many migrants can seek asylum at the southern border. That policy has been heavily criticized by immigration advocates and progressives. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Maryland Democratic Governor Wes Moore signed an executive order on Monday, pardoning more than 175,000 low level marijuana convictions. Moore said it was the most sweeping state level act of clemency in U.S. history, and that it’s a step towards righting wrongs caused by the war on drugs. 


[clip of Maryland Governor Wes Moore] We cannot celebrate the benefits of legalization if we do not address the consequences of criminalization. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Moore’s office says more than 100,000 people will be affected by the pardon. The pardons will cover those convicted of misdemeanor possession of cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia prior to July of last year, when recreational use became legal in Maryland. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, McDonald’s is reportedly throwing out its AI drive thru program after several customers complained about their orders. The fast food chain was piloting a new automated order taking program at over 100 restaurants nationwide. The idea was to let a computer do the work of taking customer orders so a worker wouldn’t have to. But things went south when the technology began making huge errors. And we’re not just talking about a missing item here and there. One customer posted a video of the McDonald’s system mistakenly adding hundreds of dollars worth of chicken McNuggets to her order while she just, you know, sat there. Another customer posted a video of her attempt to order a large water and a vanilla ice cream. The computer kept adding a caramel sundae to her order, along with some ketchup packets, butter, and a cream packet. 


[clip of unnamed McDonald’s customer] Can I please have vanilla ice cream? No caramel. Cream packet? No. I just. Not a ketchup packet. Oh my God, where did the butter come from? Just vanilla ice cream for the sundae. Oh my God, I’m done. I’m done. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Incredible. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, McDonald’s isn’t rejecting AI completely, though. The fast food chain put out a statement on Monday saying that it will continue to, quote, “evaluate long term, scalable solutions that will help us make an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: This is what we get for inventing AI. It’s so funny to try to get a cream packet with your ice cream. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now you got to pay $100 worth of chicken McNuggets. There you go. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s a good bet. [laughter] And those are the headlines. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Give Wes Moore a high five if you see him, and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just articles about how bad AI is at doing anything practical like me, What a day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


[spoken together] And let Chuck Schumer grill in peace. 


Josie Duffy Rice: There are other things to have a word with this man about. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, a whole lot of other things, okay?


Josie Duffy Rice: Let the man grill.


Tre’vell Anderson: And if he wants to eat cheese on a raw burger reportedly let him do that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Let him do it. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.